How to find the best internships

Internships can be a wonderful opportunity to gain real-world work experience and get a taster of working life in your chosen industry. They also look great on your CV and can dramatically improve your career prospects. However, some internships are more valuable than others, and this guide will help you to identify these.

Choosing a company

The first step to finding valuable internships is making the right decision over which company or organisation to intern for. It's usually good to go for a "big name" company (for example, the BBC, Google, HSBC etc.). An internship with one of these organisations will look impressive on your CV, even if you choose not to pursue a career in that industry. Large organisations are also more likely to have a structured internship programme.

Finding out what the internship will involve

When choosing between internships, try to line up an interview with the person in charge - if they don't interview you for the placement, that is. Ask for details on what the internship involves. Questions to ask include:

  • What will a typical day involve?
  • Will I be working on a specific project or assignment?
  • Which department(s) will I be working with?
  • What can I offer/what can I help with?

Be wary of a company that can't answer questions like these - if they have no idea where you will slot into the company, it's not likely that the placement will make the most of your time. You might end up running coffees and doing photocopying for the whole internship.

Making the most of your time at internships

If the internship isn't going as well as you would have liked, or you're not learning what you hoped you would learn, take action! Ask to shadow someone else or work with another department, show an interest in an upcoming project and make insightful suggestions and contributions at meetings.

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